We asked Garrett Cassidy, Dublin FinTech commentator and informed observer for his take on this question.
My answer is yes, Dublin has been pretty successful in FinTech over a long period and while it has the potential to do much more it is also at risk from significant competition in London and beyond.
Why is Dublin a great place for Fintech?
Global Financial and Tech Centre with vibrant startup scene – Dublin has both a large and broad Financial Services sector and a very strong tech sector, including substantial financial services technology organisations (including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, MasterCard, Citi, AIG) operating alongside a vibrant Startup sector. This really matters for both skills and co-creating where Tech and FS people can more easily mix than larger cities like London or New York where the startups and financial services tend to occupy different parts of the city.
Availability of talent: The first point has delivery a deep talent base across technology and financial services
Proximity to London – One that shouldn’t be missed is our proximity to London which is the Global centre of Finance and centre of the very large UK market. Companies can operate into London from Dublin as easily as from Manchester or Edinburgh. e.g. Barracuda FX are an Irish FinTech company with no clients in Dublin – their core clients are large international banks in London.
Europe & Eurozone: As a Euro member, many Fintech companies, particularly payments, can scale across Europe from Dublin.
Track record: Dublin has a deep track record in FinTech startups going back over 20 years, e.g. Kindle Banking systems, Quay Financial Systems, Norkom, Trintech, Fexco to name but a few.
But there are challenges we must recognise:
Competition: Given FinTech is such a large opportunity, other cities and Govts are working very hard to support and enable FinTech innovation, London and Singapore are standout examples with very proactive Govts and regulators going out of their way to investing and support FinTech. While Dublin has taken some steps in this direction we are at a much earlier stage and risk not being able to.
Limited Diversity: FinTech in other global cities has great founder and ecosystem diversity in terms of nationalities and cultures which really helps drive innovation. This isn’t as widely seen in Dublin which is a bit surprising given the diversity in the Dublin Tech scene.
Proximity to London: While this is an advantage, it also a challenge as London is the European centre of FinTech and is aggressively seeking out great FinTech startups to establish or relocate there to benefit from the investments they have made in supporting the ecosystem.
— Garrett Cassidy (@GarrettSCassidy) November 2, 2015
FinTech trend spotting, what are you excited about?
In the short term, real use cases emerging for Bitcoin and Blockchain and the development of the peer-to-peer sector. Looking further out I’m really excited by the potential offered by the confluence of IOT, Blockchain and AI and how this could radically alter how we interact with Financial Services
— Garrett Cassidy (@GarrettSCassidy) November 5, 2015
Top tips for fintech startups from you point of view?
Understand regulation in your space and (if possible) avoid being regulated in the early days through product design or partnerships
Like all startups – validate, validate, and validate again – make sure you are solving a real problem for customers now, don’t be a solution looking for a problem
Find good advisors and mentors to help fill any gaps in your team – they will help you see around the corners that you might not know are there.
— Garrett Cassidy (@GarrettSCassidy) December 17, 2015